Since booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine became available, the CDC has expanded the list of health conditions that qualify individuals as high risk. Mood disorders and psychiatric disorders like depression and schizophrenia are within this expanded list, meaning that if you have a mood disorder and were not previously eligible for a booster, you may be now. A growing body of research has shown a higher risk of becoming significantly ill from COVID-19 if you have a mood disorder. Read on to learn more about this connection and gain some helpful information about vaccine booster shots that can inform your decision to get a third shot.
COVID-19 Booster Shots: The Basics
If you received a 2-shot series of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, you are considered fully vaccinated. However, you may still think about a booster shot if you are over the age of 65 or have underlying conditions that increase your risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. Booster shots contain the same formulation as current COVID-19 vaccines, and they are given at least 6 months after completing your initial vaccine series.*
Why Mood Disorders Affect Your Risk
You may not think of mood disorders as conditions that affect your risk of COVID-19 or your immune health in general, but the mind-body connection is well-established. Furthermore, specific research has linked mood disorders like depression to a greater risk of severe illness and hospitalization resulting from COVID-19.
Because research is observational and occurring in real-time, the exact link between mood disorders and severe COVID-19 is still unclear. Possible explanations include the toll of chronic stress associated with mood disorders as well as the negative impact on the immune system that disturbed sleep, poor diet, and other common symptoms of mood disorders may have. In addition, people with mood disorders tend to have other underlying health conditions that can elevate their risk—mental health disorders disrupt the healthy balance of your bodily function, which can have physical consequences. For example, mental illness is associated with higher rates of obesity and tobacco use.
How to Get Your Booster Shot
This new mental health criteria for booster shots widely broadens the number of people who are eligible. If you think that a booster shot may be appropriate for you, you can find a booster shot with a local vaccine provider via vaccines.gov. When you’re searching for a provider, there is no difference between looking for your first shot or subsequent doses—so, anywhere that provides vaccines will be able to give you a booster shot as well.
If you’re not sure whether a COVID-19 booster is the right choice for you, schedule a virtual care appointment with MeMD to speak with a licensed medical provider from the comfort of your home or office. MeMD can also connect you with a therapist in as little as 24 hours for supportive mental healthcare in a convenient virtual setting.
*If you received a single-dose vaccine like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, you are eligible to receive a booster shot at least two months after your initial vaccination regardless of health status.